Anatomy of An Artist’s Exhibition - part 2
Sourcing for the idea
One question that I am often asked is that of where my ideas originate. I can honestly answer them by declaring that I have more ideas than I can shake a stick at and that I hope I have enough time to chase many. Many come from the fact of age and the experience, involvements and opinions I have gleaned over the years.
The exhibition about the boats came from eyeing the beauty of my son’s wooden racing kayak and seeing it glide or float on the water’s surface. It in itself is truly a piece of artwork. I went out for a few years with my spouse in our canoe and floating by the water’s edge and listening to the ripples and the sounds of the bush, filled me with the romance of the explorer and peace from place. I have a vivid memory of a long liner trip from Germany back to Canada after a 3 year stay. It was long enough and I young enough I wasn’t sure of what place that I belonged. The trip in a winters storm left me full of wonder and dread at the power and expanse of the sea. Seeing nothing on the horizon but a blue flat line or the splashing thundering waves washing over the deck as my sisters and I played shuffle board. That lasted long enough for a steward to spot us and drag us off the deck to safety. It was long enough to remember that desolation for ever. From there I became intrigued with other boat lines noticing how they were designed over time for smoothness of ride, speed, loads and safety. Just delighting in looking at their designs became a routine. I feel that I can relate to the early explorers, transporters of goods water roadways, adventures, excitement and being awed at the connections ships make with he continents. Distance is minimal.
My idea of hull design developed from many boat designs and varieties of shape and uses. I saw the shapes as they fit into places and thus their background parts began to come into shape also. Thus formed a series with a multitude of choices.
Now I had to choose a medium to best illustrate my thoughts about these boat lines. At first bronze was my preference. But often influences can determine the medium choice besides, beauty or suitability. In this case, economics made the final decision. Bronze making materials have risen in price and time of execution is lengthly but that is another blog item. I decided to get back to my painting missed for a few years for the sculpture. An exhibition on canvas would be large, colourful, powerful, linear, and quite suitable for my vision. also the economics were favourable with no cost for frames as I’d use exhibition framing. The stretcher framing has wide side edges covered in the canvas and these sides are painted along with the front canvas. They show well and dispense with the need to add a frame to the finished work. It would be wonderful for the artist to work without concern of costs for purchased frames, but artists have always struggled to handle the costs, long before a purchaser becomes available, to swallow those expenses. The whole exhibition expense will be swallowed by the artist and that influences our choices and is just reality in exhibiting.
Using sketch books and pencil or graphite I will do some thumbnails to get some drafts of the work. I would also use some graphic software on my computer to initialize the work and get some compositions done. This will give me direction and show me the intensity of the larger areas to choose a colour palette for each. I don’t want to get started in a large part of the canvas area to find later that I’ve run into a blockage of where to go from her or not left enough space for background expanse. We all have a few of those unfinished pieces sitting around.
Now you have your maquettes and have worked out some issues beforehand, you are ready to begin with actual placement on the canvass. I will draw on my main feature which is the boat design in lines only. From here I can still easily change size or placement and can sketch in my background elements determining proportions. Once satisfied with my composition on canvass, I can start painting. I may find that the main subject of the boat should be painted first especially for match of my colour palette in other areas. If you have settled on the colours beforehand, doing the background may be an option saving the excitement of the main subject and assured you will not tire of the entire labour before completion. I will more likely blend in all my areas working in different spots, and saving myself from drudgery of working and knowing my colours are merging well in the overall aspect of the canvas. Remember that the different background elements are as important to the overall painting as the main subject. They can hold exciting individual paintings within them and make the whole work complete.